Genuine whales tooth

May 20, 2020. 15:31 UTC
Genuine Whales Tooth
James
United States of America

Category
Collectibles

Acquired from
Gallery/Dealer

For sale
Yes
Description

This incredible example of scrimshaw on a genuine whales tooth was purchased by my late Father in 1970 in Lahaina, Maui. As the pictures I have show, the tooth is approximately 4 1/4" Tall...and at the base, it is approximately 2 1/4" wide. The tooth sat on my Father's desk for over 33 years until his passing, and as such it is in excellent condition with no marks, scratches or chips. Once again, this is an actual Whales Tooth---NOT a molded "resin" copy.

Provenance

Again. This was purchased by my late Father in 1970 in Lahaina, Maui...

The specialist needs more information
Answered within 2 days
May 22, 16:20 UTC
By Delia

Hi James,

Thank you for contacting Mearto with your appraisal inquiry.
Can you take a photograph of the large end (not the tip) showing the inside of the tooth?
Also, I notice an inscription just below the large oval illustration - what does that say?

Thanks!
Delia

James morris May 22, 17:56 UTC

5-22-20 10:57am PST
Hello Delia,
Since the tooth was carefully wrapped-up and safely packed away your request was a tall order----but in the interest of assisting you in anyway possible to make your job as easy as possible, I brought the tooth back out and took several additional photographs.

There is only one "inscription" on the tooth which is the artist's signature, and I believe one of the photographs verify it reads, "..Wyckoff.."

I hope this additional information is useful...

Regards,
JKM

Delia May 24, 18:04 UTC

Thanks, James,
I've combed my books on recorded scrimshaw artists and don't find any by the name Wyckoff, which likely means this is the only known tooth by that artist. While there were many nations participating in the whaling trade in the 19th Century, Wyckoff seems to be an English (or American) name so I'm assuming the sailor who carved this was working on an English or American ship. I can't see if the ship carved on the tooth is flying a flag...please let me know if it's not an American or British flag so I can reassess....
The current market generally prefers (and will pay a premium) teeth with profuse carving on all sides, a golden patina and teeth carved by a known carver...the vast majority of carved teeth that don't meet these criteria largely sell at auction below $1,000, even if in good condition and "right."
Based on the information and photographs provided, and subject to examination, this is:

A scrimshaw whale's tooth
American or English, Probably mid-19th Century
One side with a large carved oval panel depicting a whaling ship and rowboat harpooning a whale; the other side with a small sperm whale. Signed below the oval "WYCKOFF"
4 1/4 inches tall, 2 1/4 inches wide
$600-900*
*represents a fair-market value for auction purposes; retail or asking price may vary.

Please let us know if you have additional items to appraise, and thank you for using Mearto.

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